Access to Care
Note: All programs and projects listed in this section were early Trenton Health Team efforts and, as of January 2019, are no longer in operation.
Through our earliest efforts and initiatives – care coordination, community partnerships, data management – we worked to connect people to the care they need. We worked to bring programs to the community as well as made sure that people knew about and were able to access services through our healthcare system and provider agencies. We used data to identify needs – for individuals and for community-wide initiatives. Our emphasis was on prevention and primary care, both of which lead to better outcomes and lower costs.
Early efforts included the introduction of Open-Access or Advanced Access Scheduling to Trenton’s outpatient clinics. Developed by Mark Murray, MD, MPA, and Catherine Tantau, BSN, MPA, Advanced Access Scheduling uses statistical principles to better anticipate demand for care, improving patients’ access to and continuity with primary care providers. Results in Trenton were impressive, with average wait times for established patients to secure an appointment going from an average of 37 days to two at Henry J. Austin Health Center.
Through the Community-wide Clinical Care Coordination Team (C4T) and our Care Management Team, we worked to ensure that high-need individuals with complex comorbidities were connected to the services they needed, reducing their unavoidable use of emergency rooms. By linking people to primary care and making sure that follow-up measures were taken, we aimed to reduce the need for inpatient stays and avoidable hospital readmissions – both of which brought down healthcare costs. Most importantly, patients gained the ability to better manage their own health and have a better experience within the healthcare system.
Availability of primary care services was increased through expansion of Henry J. Austin’s clinic locations to include 433 Bellevue Avenue. This brought needed services into the West Ward of Trenton, where Henry J. Austin Health Center had not provided direct services before. THT was also instrumental in re-opening the City of Trenton’s pediatric and adolescent treatment center at 218 North Broad Street as a Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Free Clinic, staffed by volunteer providers plus Trenton’s public health nursing staff.
In 2015, with support from Janssen Pharmaceuticals, THT launched a project called Inroads for Health: Taking It to the Streets, using the City of Trenton’s mobile health van to bring basic health screenings and referrals out into the community. The van, staffed by City Department of Health nurses, visited health fairs throughout the city. In addition to blood pressure, body mass index, and blood glucose screenings, patients received a general health assessment and were referred to medical and other services such as nutrition counseling. Nurses followed up with individuals who were screened and needed additional care. In its inaugural season, more than 400 individuals, most of whom were minority and low-income, were able to obtain basic health assessments and were linked to needed services through this intervention.